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Peter Weller talk RoboCop Returns
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Posted: Tue May 28, 2019 9:02 pm Reply with quote

NukeLord :
Joseph O'Brien and Brad Abraham? To be fair they were good to this community forum almost 20 years ago. Would go out of their way to answer questions. It a was a good enough story and I still think they're good writers and I appreciated them taking the time to do so. The script wasn't filmed, directed or cast very well, definitely not in how they would've interpreted it. Sorry Julian Grant, but not good enough. Things always seemed stretched over 8 hours. It was always what could be written in 90 mins, extended to 8 hours. Therein lied the problem, which was no fault of their own. They did the best they could. I'll always most definitely respect that.


I'm rewatching PRIME DIRECTIVES right now. Watched the original 1987 movie on Saturday, then "Dark Justice" on Sunday and watching "Meltdown" tonight. I'll be posting a re-review in the PD thread probably on the weekend, a re-review that engages with the overwhelmingly negative reception on this forum and ponders how three diehard Robofans created something that is so loathed by the ROBOCOP community represented here. And it will, I hope, analyze the art and the reception without in any way insulting the creators or the fans.

But, more relevant to this thread -- I think it's really enlightening to see how fans have reacted with tentative optimism to the prospect of ROBOCOP RETURNS. Neill Blomkamp has been explicit: he wants the movie, should it be made, to serve as a pastiche of Paul Verhoeven's ROBOCOP and offer the sequel that Verhoeven would have made. This announcement came in the wave of what I like to call deboots with HALLOWEEN (2018), TERMINATOR returning to Jim Cameron's hands, an ULTRAMAN sequel that ignores the other sequels and so forth.

Blomkamp has indicated that he doesn't want to turn it into a snuff film of savagery and cruelty like ROBOCOP II or a child's action figure playset like ROBOCOP III or an unthreatening amusement park version like THE SERIES or see RoboCop reinterpreted through another actor discarding Weller's foundation as with PRIME DIRECTIVES.

He has instead declared that Verhoeven and Weller are his touchstones, that Weller is his RoboCop and that he wants to do a sequel set in Verhoeven's universe and not his own. He's effectively saying that the original movie did something wonderful and he isn't out to rebuild it or alter it; he wants to extend and expand upon what's already there, and I think that's more in tune with the fans want.




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Posted: Tue May 28, 2019 9:12 pm Reply with quote

ireactions :
I'll be posting a re-review in the PD thread probably on the weekend, a re-review that engages with the overwhelmingly negative reception on this forum and ponders how three diehard Robofans created something that is so loathed by the ROBOCOP community represented here.


While I look forward to seeing your review, I think we all know exactly what happened with PD. This recent discussion of PD has been interesting to me, though, because while it is as you say loathed, it is certainly not forgotten. PD is a fairly important part of Robo's legacy to us, even if not for the right reasons. The same can't be said about, say, Alpha Commando, which while being mostly looked down upon, does not evoke much of a reaction and is not discussed time and time again like PD.

ireactions :
He has instead declared that Verhoeven and Weller are his touchstones, that Weller is his RoboCop and that he wants to do a sequel set in Verhoeven's universe and not his own. He's effectively saying that the original movie did something wonderful and he isn't out to rebuild it or alter it; he wants to extend and expand upon what's already there, and I think that's more in tune with the fans want.


The problem with that it is the same approach literally every Robocop project has taken after Robocop 3 came out, aside from a few of the comics, but even there most would rather go backwards than forward. So it's not exactly what this fan wants, and I have been one of the few outspoken proponents of this idea. However, this new movie ignoring Robocop 2 and 3 won't make or break it. All I really want is a good Robocop film, but I still think embracing Robocop's long history is a better call than ignoring it.




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Posted: Tue May 28, 2019 9:25 pm Reply with quote

I look forward to you trashing my re-review! Very Happy

As for Blomkamp -- it's not just the fact that he says he wants to ignore everything but the 1987 movie that stands out to me. It's his statements about wanting to emulate Paul Verhoeven's style. I don't feel any of the subsequent productions, no matter how much I liked or disliked them, followed Verhoeven's model where his ultraviolence is presented in such an absurd and ridiculous way that it's funny.

ROBOCOP II was very violent, but it's in a very savage, horrific way that seems purely to disgust like when Cain shoots an unarmed woman and tosses her corpse on the street or any scene with Hobb or RoboCop being stripped apart. This cruelty was not Verhoeven's style; Verhoeven's violence is willfully ludicrous and taps into his satirical criticism of Reagan-era America. I feel that Blomkamp isn't talking about continuity as much as technique, perspective and seeking to recapture Verhoeven's sense of playful irony.

None of the sequels quite recaptured that which is why, I think, there is a sense of illegitimacy to all of them and Blomkamp seems to have the awareness to correct that.




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Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 2:46 am Reply with quote

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I look forward to you trashing my re-review! Very Happy

As for Blomkamp -- it's not just the fact that he says he wants to ignore everything but the 1987 movie that stands out to me. It's his statements about wanting to emulate Paul Verhoeven's style. I don't feel any of the subsequent productions, no matter how much I liked or disliked them, followed Verhoeven's model where his ultraviolence is presented in such an absurd and ridiculous way that it's funny.

ROBOCOP II was very violent, but it's in a very savage, horrific way that seems purely to disgust like when Cain shoots an unarmed woman and tosses her corpse on the street or any scene with Hobb or RoboCop being stripped apart. This cruelty was not Verhoeven's style; Verhoeven's violence is willfully ludicrous and taps into his satirical criticism of Reagan-era America. I feel that Blomkamp isn't talking about continuity as much as technique, perspective and seeking to recapture Verhoeven's sense of playful irony.

None of the sequels quite recaptured that which is why, I think, there is a sense of illegitimacy to all of them and Blomkamp seems to have the awareness to correct that.


The execution-torture of Murphy is more cruel and violent than anything seen in R2.Not funny.




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Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 3:05 am Reply with quote

I'd argue that it was lunatic and dramatically necessary. Murphy was a cipher with so little screentime that his horrific murder was needed so the audience would feel for him.



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Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 6:15 pm Reply with quote

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Verhoeven's violence is willfully ludicrous and taps into his satirical criticism


And I'd argue the same exact thing could be said for Frank Miller, maybe even more so, and I think the intent was more or less the same. The reason the violence is shown as savage is to show just how savage this future world is. And again, that applies to both Robocop and Robccop 2. I agree with HOB888 that the execution of Murphy is far more extreme than anything in Robocop 2. And while Cain shoots an unarmed woman, ED-209 rips apart an unarmed man in such a brutal fashion the scene had to be shortened or else the movie would have been rated X. Of course, nothing in either movie compares to the level of sadistic violence and mountains of gore seen in any R rated horror movie today. But there is no doubt that extreme violence was a theme the first was built upon and the second continued to explore.

In my opinion, however, the most disgusting, shocking, cruel, and horrific scene comes from the first Robocop. I had seen all three movies by the time I was five, but the scene that always scared me most was when Emil gets hit by a car in the first movie. The grotesque creature he became scared me for years, and the gory explosion when he gets hit is pure shock horror. This is part of what makes the movie what it is, and it is the greatest movie to me and many of us here. However, so say that Robocop 2 is savage and cruel while the first film is not is not just wrong, it is backwards, because the way I see if the first film is way more brutal, bloody, savage, cruel, shocking, gory, and downright disgusting than Robocop 2.




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Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 6:41 pm Reply with quote

Most definitely agree with HOB and RoboPimp. The original is far more sadistic and cruel than the sequel.

In regards to "Verhoeven violence", we're fans but I don't think average movie-goers realised that the violence was supposed to be "cartoony" or deliberately over-the-top/funny. I certainly never realised this until I read about is online in circa 1998/1999.

Up until then, to me it was just a violent, grisly film - which I always felt was far more violent than the sequel.




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Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 7:57 pm Reply with quote

Well, I'm hardly the final arbiter of taste and I certainly don't have opinions common to the average Robofan. For one thing, I am very, very opposed to violence and gore. I don't enjoy it, I don't like it -- but ROBOCOP (1987) is an odd exception for me. It's one of the few ultraviolent movies I've ever enjoyed and I've also noticed that TOTAL RECALL and STARSHIP TROOPERS are films where, under any director, I would not be able to watch them, but Verhoeven has a deft touch and charm and sense of irony and humour that makes them work for me.

Having recently reread Frank Miller's ROBOCOP comics, I find that Miller has a lot of Verhoeven's skill, but I don't see that reflected in the actual ROBOCOP II because Irvin Kershner is a very different director and has a very different form of madcap lunacy from Verhoeven and Miller.

I haven't quite identified Miller's touch well enough to describe it yet, but I find that Verhoeven's violence has a purposeful propulsiveness to it. ED-209 eviscerating a helpless employee is insane as is the immediate response where Bob Morton is keen to exploit the situation and the Old Man is irritated that the project has wasted money. It conveys the corporate culture of OCP. Murphy's horrific death is so the audience will connect with him as his screentime has been limited.

Emil's fate is satisfying to me where he tortured Murphy and enjoys making innocent people suffer and boasted to that terrified gas station attendant about his aim for the incredibly petty gain of refilling his motorcycle tank and in end, he's dispatched with the same indifference that he showed for all human life.

In contrast, I find that ROBOCOP II lingers on the violence and gore and there's no specific storytelling goal, no intent in juxtaposition of tone, no narrative task fulfilled. It's just to be upsetting and for me, if violence doesn't have narrative purpose, it feels excessive and repellent and I personally dislike that sort of violence.

But, like I said, most bloody violence doesn't work for me except Paul Verhoeven's. It's bizarre to me that I enjoy Verhoeven's work but can't watch shows like GAME OF THRONES or movies like ALIEN. Verhoeven's touch is an elusive, peculiar thing and if Blomkamp can match it, I would like that.




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Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 8:07 pm Reply with quote

RoboPimp :
In my opinion, however, the most disgusting, shocking, cruel, and horrific scene comes from the first Robocop. I had seen all three movies by the time I was five, but the scene that always scared me most was when Emil gets hit by a car in the first movie. The grotesque creature he became scared me for years, and the gory explosion when he gets hit is pure shock horror.


ireactions :
Emil's fate is satisfying to me where he tortured Murphy and enjoys making innocent people suffer and boasted to that terrified gas station attendant about his aim for the incredibly petty gain of refilling his motorcycle tank and in end, he's dispatched with the same indifference that he showed for all human life.


I also want to say that I think it is absolutely beautiful that RoboPimp and I have such two contrary, opposing reactions to the same scene and, for me, that's another example of why Paul Verhoeven is such an excellent director.




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Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 8:11 pm Reply with quote

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Having recently reread Frank Miller's ROBOCOP comics, I find that Miller has a lot of Verhoeven's skill, but I don't see that reflected in the actual ROBOCOP II because Irvin Kershner is a very different director and has a very different form of madcap lunacy from Verhoeven and Miller.


Miller is a guy with a sense of humor, but sadly it didn´t translate it well in movies. Yes, there are some funny moments in Robo2 (the failed prototypes or even the PG RoboCop from the middle of the film) but the film lacks the warmth of the first one.

And while the first RoboCop has graphic scenes, Verhoeven (AND NEUMEIER PLUS MINER) winks at you with the over the top deaths (with the exception of Murphy´s death). It happens in "Dredd" as well (the one liner "headshot" and a burning head, the gun recognition), where you can laugh and cheer on a tense situation. Hell, about 5 years ago I showed a friend the first film and he wanted me to "rewind" to the Emil death scene. To me, that doesn´t happen in RoboCop 2.




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Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 9:33 pm Reply with quote

Part of me wants to argue that Frank Miller's ideas would have to make it to screen in something resembling their original context and intent in order for anyone to evaluate whether or not they translated well to the film -- except I saw THE SPIRIT which Miller wrote and directed and that was quite dire. Miller's comic book writing and art is based in still images and as a director, he didn't seem to have a firm control of pacing and tone with regards to editing and directing actors. I'd like to see his SPIRIT as a comic book.

I don't quite know what to say about Frank Miller except that like Verhoeven, he makes me compelled to finish reading work that I wouldn't normally enjoy. THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS is... not my personal preference for what an older Batman would be, to put it mildly. 300 and SIN CITY are... not the sort of stories I enjoy reading. ALL-STAR BATMAN is... something. But Miller is so good that I read them anyway and find myself enjoying content that I would normally avoid. I cannot presently explain why.




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Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 5:09 pm Reply with quote

I think Frank Miller had an idea which Irvin Kershner and Walon Greene perverted. I don't think his full vision for RoboCop would have translated well to the screen, however. That being said, R2 is a good movie and had it been directed by Verhoeven it would've been a masterpiece of a sequel.

I for one am looking forward to a new movie. I think having Weller back will sway the purists but I do agree with Archive that the movie will likely suffer the same "dark fate" as Terminator Wink . Movies these days are all about the special effects and the pacing. R1 wouldn't hold up by today's box office standards and the younger audience is so used to the CGI effects and over-simplified plots that they wouldn't appreciate the dark humor and satire. I hope Blomkamp is sincere in his pledge to bring back the old Robo. If Weller's participation helps achieve that goal, I'm all for it.
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Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 7:11 pm Reply with quote

RoboWags :
I think Frank Miller had an idea which Irvin Kershner and Walon Greene perverted. I don't think his full vision for RoboCop would have translated well to the screen, however. That being said, R2 is a good movie and had it been directed by Verhoeven it would've been a masterpiece of a sequel.

I for one am looking forward to a new movie. I think having Weller back will sway the purists but I do agree with Archive that the movie will likely suffer the same "dark fate" as Terminator Wink . Movies these days are all about the special effects and the pacing. R1 wouldn't hold up by today's box office standards and the younger audience is so used to the CGI effects and over-simplified plots that they wouldn't appreciate the dark humor and satire. I hope Blomkamp is sincere in his pledge to bring back the old Robo. If Weller's participation helps achieve that goal, I'm all for it.


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Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 7:59 pm Reply with quote

NukeLord :
Most definitely agree with HOB and RoboPimp. The original is far more sadistic and cruel than the sequel.

In regards to "Verhoeven violence", we're fans but I don't think average movie-goers realised that the violence was supposed to be "cartoony" or deliberately over-the-top/funny. I certainly never realised this until I read about is online in circa 1998/1999.

Up until then, to me it was just a violent, grisly film - which I always felt was far more violent than the sequel.


I totally agree about the idea that the violence is 'supposed' to be funny. It seems some thing the way it framed downplayers the level of brutality and gore. It does not. Trust me, I first saw these films as a kid when I had no idea of context or artistic intent. And the first Roboco is far more violent. The impact on my young brain was far more intense, with many scenes of ultraviolence haunting my nightmares. The two most frightening scenes from Robocop 2 for me were Cain's brain in the tank and when Robocop himself is disassembled. It is a much less bloody film. Now, sure, seeing it as a kid my perspective was ont totally objective. But neither is everyone here saying that Verhoeven's ultraviolent style is somehow less brutal and bloody because of his artistic intent. That's prejudice, it doesn't matter if a scene is 'saying' something with its violence or not doesn't mean much when there are buckets of blood spewing around onscreen. And the shocking violence of the first Robocop is what made it what it is, which is why I find it so weird to try to give the violence in Robocop a pass but not Robocop 2, when it was always so prevalent and at the very core of these films. Also, this was a topic about Weller returning, so this has gotten pretty damn far off topic, but I digress....




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